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December 05

Walt Disney was born in 1901.

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Walt Disney was born in 1901.

Grades 5 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event





Some of Walt Disney's best-known work is in the adaptation of popular fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, and The Little Mermaid. Over time, people have criticized these works for their treatment of the female gender, saying the "Disney Princesses" in particular are stereotyped as weak and dependent upon their male protectors. Still, Disney movies have become classics in the world of movies and home video.





Disney movies provide an easy exercise for examining gender representations and cultural stereotypes in film and media.

Begin by asking your class to list all the Disney films that they have seen. Then, have students make lists of the female characters from these films. Divide the class into small groups, and assign two or three of these characters to each group. Then, ask them to describe their assigned characters. For this description, they should consider:

  • What are their physical attributes?

  • How do they relate to the male characters in the movie?

  • What do they seem to want out of life?

  • Do they seem realistic?

After the groups discuss their characters, generate a class list of characteristics. Using this list, have students write a thesis statement that begins, "The female characters in Disney films are generally ...." You may want your students to continue writing this piece as a paragraph or as a full essay.




  • SurLaLune Fairy Tales

    This comprehensive resource includes annotated fairy tales, including their histories, similar tales across cultures, and over 1,200 illustrations.


  • Experts Say Fairy Tales Not So Happy Ever After

    This article discusses a study of gender in Grimm fairy tales by Purdue professors, with extensive quotes from their research.


  • Disney's View of the World

    This resource examines racial and cultural stereotyping in some of Disney's most popular movies. The site is part of a tutorial for undergraduate students, but can easily be adapted for use by middle and secondary students as well.


  • The Walt Disney Family Museum

    This website provides information about Walt Disney, Disney art and artists, Disney's friends and family, and more. A link to an interactive timeline walks you through the important moments of Walt Disney's life and other historical events that took place during his lifetime.



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Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Promoting Diversity in the Classroom and School Library through Social Action

Students explore the effects of stereotypes by analyzing children's books. Then they create bookmarks that encourage readers to question the assumptions of stereotyped books and to seek out matching, balanced texts.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Females in the Spotlight: Strong Characters in Picture Books

What makes a character strong? Students will gain a new perspective on that question as they read and discuss the picture books recommended for this lesson. Students make the acquaintance of several strong female protagonists as they create and share Character Trading Cards based on these titles.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

He Said/She Said: Analyzing Gender Roles through Dialogue

Students analyze dialogue tags used with male and female characters in a book they have read. They then evaluate the message the dialogue tags convey about gender roles.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Analyzing Character Development in Three Short Stories About Women

Students read three short stories about women; discuss the development of female characters, gender differences, and society's expectations; and write scripts in which the characters discuss their similarities and differences.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Avoiding Sexist Language by Using Gender-Fair Pronouns

Students engage in a brief writing assignment that concretely illustrates how language and gender stereotyping interact causally.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Comic Makeovers: Examining Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Media

Students explore stereotypes in the media and representations of race, class, ethnicity, and gender by analyzing comics over a two-week period and then re-envisioning them with a "comic character makeover."


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

From Friedan Forward—Considering a Feminist Perspective

Students write letters expressing personal views on issues like equal pay, equal education/employment opportunity, and gender roles—and receive these letters six years later.